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Don Lemon Tonight

Mariupol Residents Forced Into A Crowded Center; Kyiv Warns People To Be Vigilant; Russian Forces Wants To Take Mariupol; Russia Trying To Brainwash Ukrainians; Women Will Find Other Means To Abortion; U.S. Shared Intel, Not Hit Russian Warship; Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene Breathe A Sigh Of Relief. Aired 10-11p ET

Aired May 06, 2022 - 22:00   ET




ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: The news continues. Let's turn things over to Don and Don Lemon tonight. Don?

DON LEMON, CNN HOST: All right, thanks, Anderson. I appreciate it.


And we have got news on all the big stories that we have been covering this week across the country and around the world, fears tonight that Vladimir Putin could formally declare war on Ukraine on Monday, major Russian holiday, the so-called Victory Day. And that could mean and even more brutal assault on Ukraine.

Kyiv's mayor warning citizens to try to stay indoors. And there are disturbing new accusations tonight that Putin's forces are taking civilians from their homes in and around Mariupol, confiscating their passports and holding them in conditions so unhealthy that Ukrainians call them, a ghetto.

The Russian military calls them filtration camps. People crowded together, forced to sleep on the floor. Horrific conditions there. We've got much more to come on all of this in just a moment.

And in the wake of that bombshell draft opinion that could overturn Roe v. Wade, CNN's brand-new poll finds that most Americans do not support that. Sixty-six percent say that they do not want to see Roe overturned. But what happens if that happens? What happens? So we've got a look at what could be, who could be prosecuted and where. That's coming up.

Plus, we've got lots of new developments tonight on that manhunt for the Alabama corrections officer and the inmate she is accused of springing from jail. Their escape vehicle was found abandoned in Tennessee. They apparently tried to spray paint it. A tow truck driver saying the SUV was in the middle of the road, blocking traffic and it look like someone had broken down and left it there.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) RICK SINGLETON, SHERIFF, LAUDERDALE COUNTY, ALABAMA: We are sort of back to square one as far as the vehicle description right now. As I said, we are trying to see if there were any stolen vehicles in that area. I'm hoping that we will get a break in that.


LEMON: I'm going to talk to the sheriff tonight. I want to get right, though, to the new information coming out about how Russian forces are trying to put their stamp on what remains in the city of Mariupol. Putting up a statue of a woman with the soviet flag in her hands and changing road signs from Ukrainian to Russia.

And as CNN's Nick Paton Walsh reported tonight, this is only part of what's going on in Russian occupied Ukraine.


NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL SECURITY EDITOR: Escorted by armor, curtains closed, inside is said to be some of the latest civilians to evacuate the unbridled hell of Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol.

Yet, these are Russian troops are escorting them out, not the United Nations who helped evacuate earlier in the week. Ukrainian soldiers here Friday said one theirs died and six were injured in an evacuation bid.

And while Ukraine said it began a new operation to get people out from under this, the savagery of Russian bombardment at the factory. The U.N. said Friday a total of 500 people had got out since their efforts began this weekend, many, many more desperate to flee.

Battered and uninhabitable as much of Mariupol is, still ahead of Monday's Victory Day, it appears that the city's drama theater its basement packed with children when it was bombed by Russia, killing hundreds, is now being cleared up and excavated.

These satellite images first on CNN showing rubble, visible in April, gone in recent days. Vehicles lined up on the ground around the theater, cleared to make it more presentable. It's not clear what they are tidying the scene of what many called a war crime.

The warmth world of what Russia calls liberation was also on view here in these rare images filmed inside a filtration camp, where Ukrainians are held before being forced to go to Russia. Passports taken, sleeping on the floor or in chairs, illness from the cold, or part of the experience of liberation, according to one woman whose father was there.

And this staged visit, evidence of Russia's rush to assimilate what its clumsily torn off Ukraine. This is Kherson, the first city it captured. And the man in the beard is Denis Pushilin, a separatist leader from Donetsk.

And the visit suggests Kherson, under Russian occupation, where protests are crushed, will also be declared a (Inaudible) people's republic soon. It all has the whiff of empire.


Here, he sits discussing transferring food from Kherson to Russia's separatist areas, watermelons and tomatoes. He might call it trade, Ukraine a food heist. But Moscow is far from having its way, and the costs are heavy.

These images that CNN has confirmed were filmed in a graveyard in (Inaudible), the flags of the Russian paratrooper division, the elite, and there are many in just this one city. These are the dead behind the propaganda, with so much rubble in Russia's tiny victories.


WALSH: Now, Don, in just the past hours, the mayor of Kyiv, Vitali Klitschko, has issued a stark warning for the residents of Kyiv. To say that on the eighth and 9th of May, they should be extra vigilant. Standoff if they can and be very wary of missile strikes. Essentially saying on those two days, the day of and the day before Vladimir Putin's victory parades on what they call Victory Day in Russia. There could be an escalated risk of strikes.

Everybody I think here in Ukraine and possibly around the world, wandering what exactly the Kremlin head will announce on that day, to either end, prolong or draw some kind of narrative together for this unprovoked an exceptionally brutal Russian invasion of its neighbor. Don?

LEMON: Nick Paton Walsh, thank you so much. I want to bring in CNN's military analyst and retired air force colonel, Cedric Leighton.

Colonel, good evening to you. So Ukrainian officials say that Russia is desperate for a quote, "grand victory in the east ahead of Monday for their victory day celebrations." What do you expect to see, the fiercest fighting?

CEDRIC LEIGHTON, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Well, I think, Don, this is the area right in here that we are going to see that basically the northeastern area, possibly some of the Donbas region right here, but this is the area, basically from Kharkiv through to Izyum to the northeast right here. That's where I expect to see most of the critical fighting.

LEMON: Do you think that they are capable of overtaking any of these major cities, Colonel?

LEIGHTON: Well, I think that's going to be a pretty big deal for them. If we go down south just real quick, Don, what I would say is, that if they try to do something here in Kherson, they're already got that city. If they move this way, they're going to run into Ukrainian opposition right here, which is pretty strong. So, I don't think they'll get to Mykolaiv or Kryvyi Rih, which is President Zelenskyy's hometown.

If you go up to the Donbas region, this is where they perhaps have a bit more of a chance, this would be the area around Sloviansk, Kramatorsk, perhaps Severodonetsk right in here. The area around Kharkiv I expect shelling in Kharkiv and in Kyiv, but I don't expect them to be able to dislodge the Ukrainian forces in those areas.

LEMON: You know, we have heard reports that at least 50 civilians were evacuated from the Azovstal plant in Mariupol. President Zelenskyy today saying that he is working on the diplomatic option to get the remaining defenders out. Is that their only chance at this point?

LEIGHTON: I think it probably is, Don. Because when you look at everything here related to the Azovstal plant, this right here, it's that plant, the grounds of that plant, there is no way out. The sea is blockaded from, you know, from any type of action there where they could possibly leave unless it's supported by the U.N. or NATO type mission or Red Cross type mission.

That is not going to happen, I don't think. The only possibility would be to get them out, you know, with the Russians consenting to it. And the only way to do that is if there is an agreement to do that, and the Russians have been very on and off about those kinds of things. So, I'm very pessimistic about that possibility.

LEMON: Listen, Colonel, quite honestly this war has seen largely stalled in the eastern regions since Russia withdrew from the area around Kyiv. What will it take on either side to see a significant breakthrough?

LEIGHTON: So, let's take a look at this. This is, I think something very interesting. This is a time lapse. You see Russia controlling all these areas in March. And then you start at the beginning of April you start to see Ukraine taking over all of this area right in here.

So, what we are looking at, Don, is the possibility of a stalemate in this area right in here, basically in the Donetsk and the Kharkiv regions. And then from there, this is the Luhansk region. So, these areas, I think, we are going to basically see a stalemate kind of a World War I type scenario.

There is a possibility that they might try something by moving some of their forces, they have about 2,000 or so remaining in Mariupol up in this area, so there is a possibility of something there, but if they rain shells on Kharkiv and then try to do the same thing in Kyiv, that is going to be more of a symbolic show than anything else, because they don't have the troops to backup or renew the assault on Kyiv.

And if they try to do Kharkiv they could have more of a chance of success there, but I think it's unlikely that they will be able to prevail at this point in time.


LEMON: Thank you, Colonel. I appreciate it.

LEIGHTON: You bet, Don.

LEMON: See you soon.

LEIGHTON: You bet.

LEMON: I want to go now to CNN counterterrorism analyst and former CIA counterterror official, Phil Mudd. Hi, Phil. Thanks for joining. I appreciate it.


LEMON: Russia is trying hard to change what the world sees on the ground in Ukraine. We're seeing it in Mariupol where they are trying to put a stamp on the city with things like changing road signs to Russian. But the reality is that the city has been destroyed. What is the point and the purpose of this propaganda?

MUDD: Boy, we've seen this for hundreds of years. The point goes well beyond what you were talking about that is signs. Think about things like what is our kids learning in grade school about history? What language does that kid speed? Where does a kid go to high school and continue to learn about what happened in the war?

How does a kid think about getting ahead in government? How does a kid think about college? How does a kid think again about what language he speaks at home? And what his neighbors or her neighbors are saying about them?

My point is, if you want to Russify (Ph), if you want to change culture, the Russians have tried to do that for centuries in Ukraine, street signs are nothing, Don. You've got to take decades to get into people's minds and make them think they are not Ukrainian. I don't think this will work, but you've got to think in terms of many, many years.

LEMON: So why are they doing it? Is this just for the Russian people? Why are they doing it?

MUDD: Because they think it's going to work. Look, if you live in a bubble, whether it's an Al-Qaeda bubble, an ISIS bubble, a Russian bubble, a North Korea bubble, if you live in a bubble among people who confirm what you think, the people in Moscow are going to think for years, and Vladimir Putin has said this, for years and centuries, there is no Ukraine.

Ukraine is part of the greater Russian empire. Therefore, they should not exist as a separate entity. And we think as westerners that that's a crazy idea, I'm telling you the psychology of that bubble confirms to people like Putin that this idea that Ukraine is not Ukraine, that it's Russia, he thinks it's right. And everybody is telling him the same thing.

LEMON: Got you. Russia has faced a lot of setbacks. Is Putin trying to frame anything that he can as some kind of success in order to prevent anger back home? I understand what you said. It's to, you know, sort of reaffirm in the minds of Russians that Ukraine is not Ukraine, that it's Russia, but what about on this end? Is he trying to prevent any anger back home from people who might resent the war? MUDD: I think so. I think he's also confirming to people who support

him that this is exceeding, that this is not just a military operation. This is a political and cultural operation to absorb this area, just as Crimea was absorbed.

I think there are a lot of people in Russia underreported who think this is the right move. I also think there's something there we call the anti-business confirmation bias. That is people are looking for good news.

Vladimir Putin in a close media society is going to give him good news. We are winning on victory day. We won. I wouldn't be surprised if he said we have annexed these places. He is going to tell them we are winning, and people are going to believe him, Don.

LEMON: I want to ask you, let's talk about Victory Day. It's Monday. What do you expect Putin to do, and does the, you know, russification help further his aims?

MUDD: I think it does. I mean, I think their tactical pieces that you talked about earlier in the program that is why there is an intensification, for example, missile attacks, you can show those unfriendly Russian TV to explain how powerful the Russian military is, despite the setbacks they face.

I mean, this, in my mind, in the past months, have been an embarrassment for Russia. But as you are suggesting, there is a broader story that says after the embarrassment of the fall of the wall, after the embarrassment, the humiliation of 1991, the dissolution, not just of the USSR but of the Russian empire, the empire is back, and look, 2014 Crimea, 2022, another step forward. This is Vladimir Putin as the new czar of Russia. I think it's pretty simple.

LEMON: There have been reports, Phil, that Russia wants to organize a referendum in Kherson where residents would vote on whether to make it an independent republic. We saw Russia do this in Luhansk and also in Donetsk in 2014. Is this just a bogus method to try to legitimize their control?

MUDD: Sure, I think it is. I think there are people who will vote for him, but of course they are going to control the ballot box. The interesting thing to me goes out not just with that ballot box, not just with that vote, but what potentially happens in months and years ahead.

Let's say we continue with the annexation. Let's say we continue to see the tremendous will of the people in Ukraine. Do the Americans start to say we will now -- we will now start to support an insurgency among the Ukrainians in areas that the Russians say they control, including, for example, bombings of government buildings?


I'm looking at what happened in Afghanistan when the Russians invaded and lost. And what's happening now and saying, is it not, is this going to transition at some point to a non-conventional world war, where people can vote to become part of Russia, but the Americans and the Ukrainians are going to start challenging them and saying no with guns.

LEMON: Phil Mudd, always a pleasure. Thank you.

MUDD: Thank you.

LEMON: Mariupol officials say Vladimir Putin's so-called filtration centers are nothing but a way to cover up war crimes. What's going in these camps and what's Putin's aims?


LEMON: Russian forces reportedly taking civilians from their homes around Mariupol. Ukrainian officials accuse them of forcing civilians into so-called filtration camps, with conditions are dire, they are being compared to ghettos. An adviser to the mayor of Mariupol releasing videos that claims to show the conditions in one facility roughly 90 miles east of the city.

And you can see dozens of people there forced to sleep, crowded together on bare and dirty floors. Another part of the video highlights the unsanitary conditions, showing a single working sink that everyone held there is forced to share.


The advisor who released the video says passports and other identifying information have been confiscated from the people brought there. He alleges that no medical care has been provided, one person contracting tuberculosis. The Russian military is claiming that these centers are just for screening civilians who seek to go to Ukrainian territory.

So, joining me now to discuss this, CNN national security analyst and the former Director of Intelligence, James Clapper. Director, good evening. Thanks for joining us.

So, the Mariupol City council is claiming that these camps are another way that Russia is trying to cover-up war crimes. What is Putin's goal here? What's he supposedly screening for exactly?

JAMES CLAPPER, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, to me, this is an attempt to have some temporary field expedient gulags. In the day, historically, the Russian army was permeated with commissars, political commissars who dealt with political issues. So, I don't know whether this is an attempt to brainwash, bracket propagandize Ukrainian citizens before they are shipped off the Russia against their will.

I really wonder just how widespread this is because I think it would be very difficult for the Russians to run these on a large scale. So, this is, you know, it's kind of standard historical Russian, Soviet, now Russian again approach to reeducating here, quotes, "an adversary." LEMON: Yes. As you've been saying this is not the first time that

Russia has done this. It's kind of, you said, it's out of their playbook and they are exploring filtration camps. Right? I mean, what's he got -- what's he got out of them in the past that's making him employ them again, these camps?

CLAPPER: Well, that's -- mean, Putin, in my mind, is a religious statist. That is, his religion is the state, the great state of Russia. And so, this is a, it's almost a kneejerk reflex to impose the sort of thing on the Ukrainians. They've done it in the past. Not with any great success, but this is part of the dogma of the Russian state. And so, somebody in the command chain has been given a direction to try to do this. And here is an example.

Again, I question just how widespread it will be. And in the case of the Ukrainians, it is not going to be effective. In fact, if anything, it is going to make the animosity, if that's possible, even worse that the Ukrainians have for the Russians.

LEMON: Director, I've to ask you since you're here. I mean, this is your wheelhouse about all this back and forth precisely over what intelligence the United States are sharing with Ukrainian forces.

The Pentagon Secretary John Kirby saying this today. Listen to it.


JOHN KIRBY, PENTAGON PRESS SECRETARY: The intelligence that we provide to Ukraine is legal, is lawful, it's legitimate and it's limited. We give them information, other partners give them information, and, by the way, they have terrific intelligence of their own. They corroborate all that together and then they make the decisions they are going to take, and they take the actions they are going to take.


LEMON: So, walk us through this. It feels like he is walking a fine line between saying, you know, not much intelligence has -- now much intelligence has helped Ukraine and being on specific, and how it has helped.

CLAPPER: Well, first of all, John is exactly right in what he said. I think the way to think about this is, Don, consider in this context, in a war context, intelligence is another weapon system. So we give the -- we give the Ukrainians javelins to kill vehicles, we give them stingers to kill aircrafts, we give them long-range artillery and counter battery radar to determine where are the Russian artillery is, which is a form of intelligence.

Well, so it is with intelligence. And we don't attach strings to that. You know, we don't say to the Russians we are going to give you this intelligence that we have confidence in, we think it's pretty good, but please don't use it to kill Russian generals or sink Russian ships. It isn't done that way. And as John points out, the Ukrainians are pretty capable themselves.

There are others besides us helping them. And I would also point out the huge impact that the commercial image, overhead imagery is having, which of course, the Ukrainians have access to.


So, I think it's -- I have to say, as well, Don, if I might, that as an intel guy, you know, I just assume not see this kind of discussions out in public. But they are out there. And having -- having been exposed, again, I think the best way to think about this is the intelligence is a weapon system as well, just like javelins, stingers, et cetera.

LEMON: Director, thank you. Be well.

CLAPPER: Thanks, Don.

LEMON: One state looking to classify abortion as homicide, another one's neighbors to snitch on each other, the bills that could be law if Roe v. Wade is overturned. We will look at that straight ahead.



LEMON: Our new CNN polls shows -- poll shows 66 percent of Americans do not support the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade. That comes in the heels of this week's leaked draft opinion showing the court may do just that, putting power back in the hands of individual states. Striking down Roe could also lead to a growing number of legal fights in states.

CNN's Jessica Schneider reports now.


GOV. KEVIN STITT (R-OK): We want to outlaw abortion in the state of Oklahoma.


JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Nearly two dozen states are on the brink of banning abortion and it will happen almost immediately if the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade. Thirteen states have trigger laws, abortion bans that will go into effect once Roe is off the books. Nine states have so-called zombie laws, abortion bans that were never repealed once Roe took effect in 1973. These bans would go back into effect if the conservatives on the court eliminate that constitutional right to abortion.


DANA NESSEL (D-MI), ATTORNEY GENERAL: That very moment, prosecutors around the state, could begin prosecuting doctors and I would argue, potentially women as well. (END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHNEIDER: Michigan's law makes no exception for rape or incest, but it would allow abortions to save the mother's life. But the Republican running for attorney general in Michigan says he would prosecute even if abortion was performed in an effort to save the mother.


MATT DEPERNO (R), CANDIDATE FOR MICHIGAN ATTORNEY GENERAL: And then said, well, what about the life of the mother, OK. Do you have an exception for that? I said, I do not. Because there is literally no medical diagnosis that says that if the mother's life is in danger, abort the baby.


SCHNEIDER: That is just one example of how uncertain the actual enforcement of criminal abortion statutes could be. In Wisconsin, the attorney general is already saying he'll refuse to prosecute and will instead leave it to local district attorneys.


JOSH KAUL (D-WI), ATTORNEY GENERAL: It's my view that we have problems that we need our law enforcement to be dealing with, like violent crime, drug trafficking. And we don't need to shift their focus from -- from those important efforts to -- to going after people for allegedly violating a ban that nobody had understood to be enforceable for almost 50 years.



SCHNEIDER: The wide-ranging prosecutorial approach reflects just how uncertain and uneven the legal landscape would be in a post-Roe world.


MARY ZIEGLER, VISITING PROFESSOR, HARVARD LAW SCHOOL: I think the most important and difficult question is going to be the, whether states can reach out of their own borders to prosecute people, or whether states are going to prosecute patients for having abortions as Louisiana seems to be doing.


SCHNEIDER: Louisiana lawmakers passed a bill out of committee this week that would classify abortions as homicides, leaving the door open for patients to be prosecuted. And then there's the question about how officials would even find out about illegal abortions.

Privacy advocates are now raising the alarm that people's Google searches could be used against them, or even their own cell phones. Alan Butler leads the Electronic Privacy Information Center and points out that third parties can buy data from Google and perform reverse searches that could enable law enforcement to track who was at an abortion clinic and when.


ALAN BUTLER, PRESIDENT & EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, ELECTRONIC PRIVACY INFORMATION CENTER: If the prosecutor goes and gets a court order to get this type of data, or they go and try to buy this data on the open market, for example, which is another thing that happens, then they would know the information about the devices that were there, the idea of your device.


SCHNEIDER: Legal experts are now scrambling to fully understand all the implications of a post-Roe America. And many say rather than the Supreme Court's likely decision being the final word, it could instead spur a flurry of state-by-state legal fights in the years ahead. Don?

LEMON: All right. Jessica, thank you very much. For more, let's bring in now Emily Bazelon, the New York Times magazine staff writer and fellow at Yale School. Thank you, Emily. Good evening to you.

So, you heard in Jessica's piece there, if Roe is overturned nearly two dozen states will almost overnight ban abortion between trigger laws and laws already on the books. So talk to us more about what a post-Roe world might look like?

EMILY BAZELON, STAFF WRITER, NEW YORK TIMES MAGAZINE: I mean, let's just start by recognizing would a huge change this will be in American law and in American life. I'm not sure in our country's history that we've seen a rollback like this of a constitutional right that so many people depended on that lasted for 50 years, which was then taken away.

And it's such seismic shift that I think it's very hard to predict what will happen, but it is surely true that prosecutors in a lot of states are going to be facing real choices about how to exercise their discretion. States are going to enact different kinds of bans. Some of them are not going to impose criminal penalties, and it's going to be really important not to scare people full more than is necessary under the law, but some are going to try to do that.


And I think that some state officials are going to try to scare women out of having abortions and try to scare providers out of doing abortions. And so, we are going to have to watch carefully to see what happens and to see how much resistance there is. When I'm talking about is civil disobedience.

LEMON: Do you think, Emily, that this draft could change and they may end up restricting abortions instead of getting rid of it outright?

BAZELON: It's completely possible. I mean the draft is only as good as the paper it's printed on. The justices still have complete power to decide this case. I think there is a way in which the conservative movement majority, it might feel like the draft is frozen in place, because now that it's been reported that there are five justices, everybody is going to know who changed their minds if somebody does.

But it is such a dramatic change that I think there is a good reason why we all keep wondering if maybe there is some way this could be moderated, because this seem so extreme.

LEMON: So, you mention prosecutors. It is clear that prosecutors will have a very big role if Roe is overturned. Do you think they are going to prosecute women, doctors, I mean, how do you expect them to decide who does or doesn't face criminal charges? Do we even know?

BAZELON: I mean, it's -- well, we don't know, and it's sort of, head spinning that we are considering this. I mean, remember when former President Trump ran for office and he just mentioned the possibility of women being prosecuted? Republicans got very upset with him. That was saying the quiet part out loud.

They have really pulled away from the idea of going after patients, of going after women, and so at that point, the focus of anything was on preventing providers from doing abortions. So, surely that will happen when restrictions that bans go into place and I think most of the providers will close up shop.

And then, the next question will be abortion with pills, because that is a very safe and effective method. There's research showing people can manage that at home. But if we are worried about surveillance and women are worried about people opening their mail or looking at their Google searches, then that is going to open up the possibility of criminal penalties, but only if states are really willing to go to great lengths to punish women for having abortions.

LEMON: It's really a predicament, a bizarre state to be in. You know, when it comes to this issue. So, Texas is a trigger ban state. Its current law encourages people to sue someone that they suspect of aiding with abortion services if a person from another state where to assist in an abortion, right, the question again is could they face prosecution?

You talked about women being afraid of, you know, the Google searches and opening their mail, but from someone from another state face prosecution?

BAZELON: So, there are 19 states now that either ban or restrict telemedicine abortions. And so, that has at this point prevented American doctors in blue states from providing abortion by pills over, you know, teleconferencing and through the mail.

However, last week, Connecticut, which happens to be where I live, passed a bill that would protect abortion providers from being prosecuted in another state, as long as they did the abortion in compliance with Connecticut laws. And that is really important form of protection. It's also a really big deal. It means that Connecticut is saying to states like Texas, we are not going to extradite our doctors, even if you charged them with felony. We haven't seen that kind of battle over, you know, jurisdiction,

extradition, as it's called, between states, you know, maybe since the Civil War. I know that sounds dramatic, but it's really hard to think of a parallel to that.

And so, again, it's just hard to know how it's going to play out, but states like Connecticut really can do something to try to help abortion providers prescribed across state lines.

LEMON: Thank you, Emily. I appreciate it.

BAZELON: Thanks for having me.

LEMON: What a week at the Supreme Court. A bombshell dropped decision on unprecedented leak, some justices are being blamed, other justices defending the court. Where does it'll go from here? We are going to talk about it next.



LEMON: Listen, obviously, an unprecedented week for the Supreme Court after the leak of a draft majority opinion that would overturn Roe v. Wade and big decision on other major issues on the way. What comes next for the court?

Let's discuss now, CNN senior legal analyst, Mr. Preet Bharara is here. Preet, thanks for joining. Good evening to you. This will --



LEMON: Yes, absolutely. This week we got this unprecedented leak, a draft decision many see as starkly political and anti-precedent, senators saying that justices misled them or outright making accusations a fraud. An investigation is happening now. And a country that, you know, is wondering what happens next? What is this we've done to the court? What is -- what is going on here? Give us the big picture.

BHARARA: Well, it's obviously an earthquake that we are being told is about to happen. The other odd thing about this is it's a draft opinion. The Chief Justice John Roberts has emphasized it's not final. The court is also emphasized that, you know, they will not be bullied. Sam Alito said that in the last day or two and so we can expect that that's going to be the decision, that's going to be a majority decision, although we don't know that quite for certain.

We had Justice Sam Alito saying -- I'm sorry, we had Justice Clarence Thomas saying, in the last day, I think maybe even it was today, that people need to get used to accepting outcomes. And that's -- that's a good statement as far as it goes, if you are detached from history or you're speaking in a vacuum.


But when you have an outcome that people think is tainted in some way because there is cheating in some way, or bad faith in some way, or the methodology or the arguments made in favor of the outcome are things that are unusual and perhaps even unprecedented in constitutional history, then people have a harder time dealing with the outcome. And maybe you'll put the quote up in a minute.

It's also especially ironic coming from Clarence Thomas when the outcome in the country, the political outcome in the country that has been most resisted with violence and by other means has been the election of 2020, which raised a lot of controversy, because Clarence Thomas's wife was in communication with people with respect to January 6 and has been a proponent of the big lie.

So, I think you are correct to say as others have been saying, that there is going to be a reduction in the trust and faith and respect people have for the court. It's been on the slide for a while now, I think approval of the Supreme Court some years ago is about 60 percent, now it's 40 percent and below, and it's going to get worse.

Because the other thing about outcomes, since Clarence Thomas was talking about it, is if you engage in an outcome that lays the foundation and opens a door for other bad outcomes, as you and Emily Bazelon were discussing a few minutes ago, that's also going to make people not want to abide by this particular outcome, the overruling of Roe v. Wade.

The basis of the reasoning in that opinion opens the door, and I know some people are having a debate about this intellectually and academically, but the door is opened if that opinion stands to the withdrawal and taking away of other rights. So, it's an easy thing to say in a speech that people should abide by outcomes, but it's not how it works and practice, particularly when it's gone this way.

LEMON: Let's talk about what Clarence Thomas and exactly where he is. He was speaking at a judicial conference, it was in Atlanta, Preet. And he is saying that the government institutions should be quote, shouldn't be quote, "bullied into delivering what some see as a preferred outcome," and added that "you cannot have a free society without stable institutions."

So, I mean, is the Supreme Court being bullied? That's quite an accusation on his part.

BHARARA: No, people -- I believe -- I believe that in the Constitution, speaking of the Supreme Court and the Constitution, there is an amendment, and it's the first one, and people are allowed to express dismay and disagreement with Supreme Court decisions. That's how it works.

You know, the ironic thing about -- the other ironic thing because there are many ironies about it, but one of the ironic things about the Thomas statement, about accepting outcomes and not being bullied, is think of what the conservative reaction -- the anti-abortion reaction has been to Roe for 49 years. Were they accepting? Were they tolerant of it? Where they not resorting to bullying of the court?

LEMON: Right.

BHARARA: And figuring out ways through the federal society and by cheating Merrick Garland to have a seat in the Supreme Court. And by rushing Amy Coney Barrett to a seat on the court when the election was just days away? Were they accepting the outcome in Roe v. Wade? They were not. So, it's the height of ironies bordering on just ridiculousness for that kind of statement to be made.

LEMON: CNN's own Joan Biskupic offering stark analysis of the Chief Justice John Roberts role on the court after the leaking -- after the leak, saying John Roberts appears suddenly ineffectual, gone is the confident jurist whose views prevailed across the board and the man who was all controlling of the operations at the court building.

What can he do to get back in control of the court? Is there anything he can do?

BHARARA: You know, I don't know how much in control he has been. He's clearly projecting the image of being in control for periods of time, being the potential swing vote. The problem is, I think twofold, one is the country is very, very divided. People don't like their institutions as much as they did. They don't respect them as much as they did.

Number two, I say two things, maybe three things. The court is now six-three. And if you are a chief on a more evenly divided court, I think you have more of an ability to push the court, shape the court, govern the court to the extent that it's even a possibility, and be a powerful member of the court as the chief.

There's six votes on one side. Even if Roberts goes the other way from time to time or wants to have a milder, or more nuanced opinion or reaction from the court on abortion or anything else, he is outnumbered.

So, you know, I don't think the ability for him to take back control in a way that some people thought he had it is really in the cards in the near future.

LEMON: Preet, thank you so much. Have a good weekend. I appreciate you joining us.

BHARARA: Thanks, Don, You, too.

LEMON: The latest on the effort to bar Marjorie Taylor Greene from the ballot. Now the Georgia secretary of state is weighing in. What he ruled, next.



LEMON: The reelection campaign for conspiracy theory peddling Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene is on. Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger is officially accepting a judge's ruling today that the Georgia Republican should not be disqualified over her role in the January 6th insurrection.

In a 19-page recommendation the judge said challengers provided insufficient evidence to show Greene engaged in the insurrection after she took the oath of office on January 3rd. That's after Greene testified for more than three hours becoming the first member of Congress to answer questions under oath about January 6th. But she didn't say much.

CNN's Amara Walker was in court and counted upwards of 50 times Greene said she didn't remember.


UNKNOWN: Your testimony as you sit here today under oath, is that you didn't talk to anybody in government about the fact that there were going to be large protests in Washington on January 6th?



UNKNOWN: Did you talk to people at the White House about the fact that there were going to be large demonstrations on January 6th in Washington?

GREENE: I don't remember.

UNKNOWN: Prior to January 6th, Representative Greene, did anyone ever mention to you the possibility that there might be violence in Washington on January six 2021?

GREENE: I don't remember.


LEMON: The Republican primary in Georgia schedule for May 24. Up next, Russia, desperate for a win by Monday. We are live in Ukraine after this.


LEMON: Ukraine on highly alert. Officials fearing Russian forces will increase attacks heading into its so-called Victory Day holiday on Monday.


The Kremlin pushing for a win in Mariupol as Ukrainians desperately try to hold on to that steel plant.